I know it’s not traditional to start a blog post with ‘hello’ & looking at it now, it looks just like spam. But it seemed such a long time since I’d posted that a greeting wouldn’t hurt, maybe even a re-introduction. (Though introductions are hard: the more I write, I swear the less interesting I get, until I reach a point where I have to acknowledge that my characters are more interesting than me. And I don’t even mind.)
Back in March I decided to take 2 months off. I was between writing projects (or at least, in a well-earned space) & I was switching jobs & dealing with a large personal upheaval that wasn’t particularly bad, but felt like it. Let’s just say it took some getting used to a new idea. So I told myself this was all more than enough & I scheduled 2 months off.
During those 2 months, I went to work, came home, read a lot, watched television, prepared healthy lunches for the next day, & went to bed. I reflected at the time — & announced to the bf with a fair amount of irony — that living a normal life was “easy – I don’t know why more people don’t succeed at regular life when it was so *easy*”. What I meant was, writing AND working had worn me out over the past year. Serving two masters had become exhausting. My two months spent with only one master felt like a holiday by comparison.
As the 2 months wore on, the time I spent on all those initial activities began to diminish & the time made available to the last increased. I came home more than once and was in bed by 7:30pm. This, I should point out, was my body’s reaction to an illness that came on gradually & stayed around, like, forever. I had a cold, but not enough of a cold to warrant time off (except, I think for a day — & besides, I was in a new job. People generally don’t want to take time off in a new job. It’s the old job they wish they’d taken more time off for). I figure this was the burnout that had been waiting for me at the end of my year spent working and writing, both kinda full time (which is to say, I wasn’t working at both fulltime, but I did manage to achieve a fulltime day job in a rather miserable environment, and 80,000 new words of the novel I scrapped at the beginning of last year. I now joke to people: I’ve written three novels; they all just happen to have the same title).
So by the end of the 2 months I was sick, & each time I started to get well, I got sick again. I remember one day going to work & announcing to my colleagues that this was “the first time I’ve woken up feeling well in at least two weeks” only to find that by the afternoon I was sick again. Each time, the illness began with a different symptom & stayed long enough to uncover a new symptom to switch places with.
This, you can imagine, drove me freaking nuts.
After 5 weeks of illness (we were, by then, in late May), I went to a GP & insisted there was something screwy about my health. Maybe it was my immune system, maybe it was something hormonal, but some kinda SOMETHING was fcking with me. Let me cut the medical story short, because by now you’re wondering if there’s some big announcement at the end of this, & there isn’t. Modern medicine deems me well. And the GP’s response to my question, “Am I really expected to live with this level of exhaustion & sickness indefinitely” was, quite literally, a shrug.
Good thing we have naturopaths in Sydney, & I am currently being treated first for my shattered immune system. And after that, for ‘subclinical hypothyroidism’. Most of the concoctions taste quite normal, though there is this one liquid that tastes, at first, like molasses. And then, once swallowed, like some kinda evil, bitter molasses twin. And I am throwing myself into this because, goddammitt, having passed ‘a significant milestone birthday’ as one person described it to me, I am determined to spend the next 10 years feeling better than the last. So help me.
In the meantime, I’ve become so out of touch with blogging that when I saw this post, I wanted to “re-tweet” it & wondered why there wasn’t a button for that yet:
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”
— Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960 (from The Quotations Page)